Aptos Public Schools are some of the best in Santa Cruz county. All public schools in Aptos are part of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District.
In August 20216, The Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) hired a new superintendent of schools. Last week at the Aptos Chamber of Commerce meeting, the new superintendent, Dr. Michelle Rodriguez, reported on her first 100 days in the job. With her permission, the audio of her presentation was recorded and is available here to listen to or download.
At the outset of the 100 days, the plan was to “Listen, Learn, and Lead.” Indeed, during her first 100 days, she participated in 106 “learning sessions.” She detailed four top priorities for these first 100 days:
- Build a Relationship with the Entire District as One Team
- Listen to Multiple Perspectives of All Stakeholders
- Lead through Shared Purpose and Vision
- Celebrate Early Accomplishments
If that sounds a bit nebulous, listen to the audio recording below and get a feel for the direction she intends to take the district:
Listen to the Presentation
Download audio file…
In her presentation to the Chamber, Dr. Rodriguez signaled that the Aptos schools will receive more attention than perhaps they have had in the past. She pledged to treat all schools in the system individually, with no one-size-fits-all philosophy. She also noted that both the incoming President and Vice President of the PVUSD Board of Trustees hail from Aptos.
Dr. Rodriguez stated that the district intends to focus on “the whole child,” having added social-emotional counselors and infused Visual and Performing Arts back at the schools. She is looking forward to all schools once again having robust art and music education. To set the district on a firmer financial footing, she is looking to hire a full-time grant writer with a goal of raising millions of additional dollars per year. Given the fact that 78% of PVUSD students live in poverty, it is likely there’s ample grant money to be found.
Dr. Rodriguez appears to offer a very hands-on approach. She is very active on Twitter, and from her feed, she does appear very much to be in the trenches and not locked up in an ivory tower. She has a commitment to openness: for example, all PVUSD board meetings are now streamed live and archived on the Internet.
Fantastic collaborative visit at WCSA filled w/students effectively using technology coupled w/collaboration to meet learning intentions pic.twitter.com/BTC8xNWjyR
— Michelle Rodriguez (@mlrod32) December 13, 2016
So far, the new Superintendent appears to be off to a good start. But it’s early days yet, and many Aptos parents, teachers, and students will be looking forward to concrete and visible improvements in our local elementary, junior, and high schools. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please reach out to the Superintendent directly at 831-786-2135 or via email at email@example.com
See also: Santa Cruz Sentinel article
A couple of weekends ago, Comcast Cares Day came to Mar Vista Elementary School, where my son is currently enrolled in first grade. Each year, the good folks at Comcast sponsor community service events throughout the country, enlisting thousands of volunteers to help make their communities a better place. Comcast provides tools and materials, and actually also donates $10 per volunteer who shows up to help.
Mar Vista Elementary School was very fortunate to have been chosen this year, and we owe it to a Mar Vista Elementary school parent, Orlando Calderon, a Comcast employee, who nominated Mar Vista Elementary for the program this year. As it happens, Orlando came to my house and fixed an issue I was having with my high-speed Internet (the first issue I’d had in over 2 years of service) – and he doggedly stuck with it until the issue was resolved. It’s clear that Orlando really cares, about Comcast’s customers and our community as well.
It was great to see so many families from Mar Vista come out to participate in the event. Things got rolling around 7:30 AM, and a whole bunch of folks stayed for the entire day, with a break for lunch provided by Aptos Street BBQ. Lots of kids were out there working too. In an era of omnipresent iPads and other digital distractions, it was really refreshing to see so many kids happily and enthusiastically helping make their school a better place.
Comcast even got Supervisor Zach Friend out of bed early on a Saturday morning, leaving his wife and toddler son back at home, to come and give Principal Rich Determan a certificate from state senator Bill Monning, who, unsurprisingly, could not actually attend in person. I shot a little video of Zach’s remarks, which you can see below.
Zach Friend’s Remarks at Comcast Cares Day
This morning at the gym, I finished watching President Obama’s commencement speech for the 2016 class at Howard University. Say what you like about Obama’s politics, but the guy gives a good speech. What I took away from it is that your personal involvement in the community is really important. It’s not enough to sit and complain and refuse to participate because it’s futile or because the whole system is corrupt.
And I think this is what makes Aptos the amazing place that it is. People are engaged. People care. And you really saw that a couple of weeks ago at Comcast Cares Day. So thanks to Orlando Calderon, to Comcast, and to everyone who came out to help spiff up our school. You’ve helped make the world a better place, one shovel full of mulch and paint brush stroke at a time.
Mar Vista Elementary School has been selected as one of the recipients of the Comcast Cares Day program. Comcast Cares Day, which takes place each April during National Volunteer Month, is now in its 15th year. On Saturday, April 30th, Comcast will be sponsoring a school clean up day and fundraiser, starting at 7:30 AM and running until 2 PM. For every community member that shows up to help clean up Mar Vista, the school will receive a $10 donation from Comcast, and the gift of each volunteer’s service.
Mar Vista Elementary School owes its selection to Orlando Calderon, a Mar Vista parent and Comcast employee. He submitted the school to the program and is the site coordinator for the project.
Comcast Cares Day is a celebration of our company’s year-round commitment to service, and has grown to become the nation’s largest single-day corporate volunteer event. In 2015, more than 100,000 volunteers improved more than 900 parks, schools, beaches, senior centers and other vital community sites.
Comcast will be providing cleaning supplies and food for the volunteers, along with a free t-shirt. If you are interested in helping out, please sign up! There are two ways to register, either online using this link or by downloading and printing a PDF form and turning in a volunteer form to the Mar Vista office.
The deadline for signup was officially April 15th but volunteers are still be accepted, and the more the merrier and the sooner the better.
Comcast expects more than 100,000 volunteers to participate in more than 800 projects worldwide, and the school hoping to have a hundred or more volunteers at Mar Vista on Saturday. Please come out and show your support for Mar Vista and our community!
The first 21st Century Classroom in Santa Cruz County has opened at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos. The building, constructed at a cost of $12.1 million is an impressive 40,500 square feet built in three levels and features 12 classrooms, a computer lab, science lab, several rooms for church programs, and an amphitheater.
The new school building has long been on the campus master plan, but the current vision for the project began to take shape about eight years ago. One of the key leaders in the effort was executive pastor Mark Spurlock, who kindly made himself available for a guided tour of the facility.
It features a wide array of high-tech touches, including LED lighting systems throughout the facility that recognize when people enter a room, and when they leave so the lights can be shut off. What’s more, there are ambient light sensors that adjust the lighting level to be well balanced with natural light from the windows.
The building is climate controlled to keep the indoor temperature at an even 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which has been determined to be the best temperature for students to learn in. What’s more, rooms which are unoccupied can be left cold or hot while rooms which are occupied will have their temperatures maintained at optimal levels.
Each classroom features a long whiteboard, onto which can be projected the output from AppleTVs, Chrome Casts, or a scanner on the teacher’s desk for projecting old-fashioned printed material. Teachers can write all over the white board with old fashioned dry erase markers as well, combining the best of “old school” and new technologies.
The structure was designed by long-time parishioner Rich Ifland of Ifland Engineers (designers of the iconic Santa Cruz Lighthouse). Mr. Ifland studied the latest in school and classroom designs from around the country, but in particular in the Seattle area where they have opened dozens of new schools in the past 20 years.
The structure was built by local firm Bogard Construction, which has built most of the buildings on the Twin Lakes Campus. They broke ground in 2014 and were able to finish the whole project on time and on budget. Funding for the project came completely from donations within the church.
The school serves primarily students from Kindergarten through 5th Grade, with middle-school aged children coming in to use the science and computer labs. With the expanded capacity, the school has more space to accept a few dozen new and lucky students and they are currently accepting applications for enrollment.
There’s a new, private middle school in Aptos: Pioneer Middle School. The school serves children in grades 6 through 8, and is blazing a new trail in education in the mid-county area. The school seeks to provide a world-class educational experience for kids that focuses on more than just the 3 R’s.
Taking a page from Google’s playbook, students at Pioneer Middle School are allowed to spend one day per week (Fridays) working on a project that is their own passion, and the teachers work to guide the student as they work.
As the school’s web site says:
Pioneer Middle School provides young people with a challenging, creative, and caring academic environment that values social, emotional, intellectual, physical and artistic exploration.
Moreover, the school is designed to provide:
- A balanced approach to education
- Thoughtfully designed homework
- Daily Fitness and Well Being class
- Low student-to-teacher ratio
- Children prepared for now!
The school is holding an open house on Saturday, March 19 from 10:00 to 11:30 AM, and they are actively enrolling students at this time.
The school a 501(c)3 non-profit and is presently it’s start-up phase. It is located on the grounds of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church, at 6401 Freedom Blvd in Aptos. Interested parents are encouraged to contact the school and inquire about financial aid if need be.
More tile mosaic public art comes to Aptos! Over the past couple of years, beautiful tile mosaics have begun popping up on the walls of Aptos Junior High. Soon, if all goes according to plan, these tile mosaics will find their way into new public spaces in Aptos, starting with a cinder block wall across the street from Mar Vista Elementary School on Soquel Drive.
These colorful mosaic art projects are being spearheaded by Aptos Junior High art teacher Susan Megorden, who has worked at Pajaro Valley Schools for 33 years, 16 of those at Aptos Junior High. Megorden runs an after-school Public Art Club, and club members, totaling some 25 in all, are credited with creating more than half a dozen mosaics thus far at the school. They’re running out of wall space at the Junior High, and are ready to take on new territory.
The cinder block wall in question has been tagged with graffiti numerous times in recent years. Neighborhood resident Denise Elerick has for years been working diligently to keep the graffiti off the wall. Having seen the beautiful mosaics produced by the Public Art Club, she had the idea to ask the county to allow a mosaic to be installed on the wall at the foot of the road leading to Vienna Woods.
According to teacher Megorden, “Mosaics like these tend not to be vandalized or tagged with graffiti.” She went on to say, “We hope to make everyone feel this is their community by having ownership of it. We’re trying to build community through art.”
The plan is to cover the wall with a 4×20 foot mosaic design of wild flowers on a grassy field. That’s a lot of mosaic, and it won’t come cheaply. Megorden estimates that the club will need to raise over $1,000 to pay for the supplies. To raise money for the project, a GoFundMe campaign has been started.
The current plan calls to install the mosaic on the wall on April 9th and 10th. Volunteers are welcome to help with the project – many hands will make light work. The work hours will be between 10 AM and 1 PM.
The hope is that this mosaic will be the first of many, that this will be a recurring project for Aptos art students for years to come. Any funds raised in excess of what is necessary for this year’s project will be rolled into subsequent projects for the Aptos Junior High Public Art Club.
Aptos Junior High School is part of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District. GreatSchools.org gives Aptos Junior High 8 out of 10.
Related Posts On AptosCommunityNews
- Tile Mosaic Public Art Comes to Aptos (February 23, 2016)
Mar Vista School Needs Your Support with their 2015 Read-a-thon! This is the second year that Mar Vista Elementary School in Aptos is running a read-a-thon fundraiser. With only a few days left to go, the school is well short of it’s $35,000 fundraising goal.
Mar Vista is a California Distinguished School and is renown in the community for its amazing community – just like Aptos itself. Hundreds of Aptos kids attend the school, and thousands of Aptosians themselves attended Mar Vista Elementary school at some time in their lives.
If you know a child at Mar Vista Elementary School, you can go to this web page to look them up and make a donation and become that child’s supporter in the fundraiser.
Even if you don’t have a child currently enrolled at Mar Vista, won’t you consider making a donation to the read-a-thon, to help them reach their fundraising goal? You can make a donation either as an individual, or make a donation as a business to have your business featured on the fundraising page! It’s a great way to log in a tax-deductible expense before the end of the year.
We thank you for your support!
Aptos High School is part of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District. U.S. News and World Report rates Aptos High as the nation’s 1,068th best high school, and the 212th best high school in California, although GreatSchools.org gives Aptos High a 9 out of 10.
Related Posts On AptosCommunityNews
- Aptos High Homecoming (September 13, 2015)
- Shrek comes to Aptos (July 17, 2015)
- Carrie’s Dream has Come True (March 16, 2015)
- Carrie’s Dream Dance Showcase on February 8 (January 9, 2015)
- Aptos High 2014 Homecoming King (September 30, 2014)
- Aptos Gas Pipeline Test Starts Monday (August 15, 2014)
- Aptos High teacher wins Educator of the Year (December 11, 2013)
St Andrew Parents Co-Operative Pre-School in Aptos is part of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church. It’s a very well run cooperative preschool favored by many Aptos parents and kids, and has been in business since 1969, and boasts a student teacher ratio of 5:1. They accept children ages 2.6 through 5.9, for classes on M/W/F or T/TH.
The school believes every parent should be genuinely involved in their child’s education. With guidance from teachers, staff and participation from parents, St. Andrew Preschool works so that all their kids will possess a joy for learning that will last throughout their academic life.
St. Andrew Parents Co-Operative Pre-School is a non-religious, play-based preschool that provides recreational, physical, creative and educational activities for preschool children in a comfortable and safe environment. They provide parental education about the intellectual and social growth of their children. The philosophy of St. Andrew Preschool is that education though play serves as the bedrock of a young child’s education.